Friday, January 27, 2017

2017 Costa FLW Series Southeastern Lake Okeechobee Day 1: Gary Milicevic Grabs Lead with 25lbs!

Spawner is key to bigger weights
by Rob Newell 
This time of year, 10- to 12-pound limits are a dime a dozen on Lake Okeechobee. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the day one stats of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Power-Pole where 211 limits were weighed in out of 250 pros fishing.
Most of those limits were comprised of aggressive buck bass that make beds by the thousands in the shallows while the more wary – and much larger – females lurk around on the outsides of the bedding zones in deeper water or thicker cover.
Two brutes for Milicevic. (Photo: FLW) 
Essentially the difference between a par 10-pound limit and a 24-pound limit on Okeechobee right now is one is a bag full of males and the other is a bag full of females. But targeting just female bass all day is a much riskier proposition that requires being in close tune with staging areas, moon phases, wind directions, water clarities and fishing pressure to know exactly when and where a new bevy of big girls is going to roll up.

Two Okeechobee pros who have proven to be in tune with this staging rhythm in 2017 are Gary Milicevic of Labelle, Fla., and Robert Beatty of Clermont, Fla.
Milicevic has been part of two big tournament finishes in recent weeks, including a win at the Roland Martin Marine Center Team Series Championship and a runner-up in an American Bass Series event. Beatty, too, made some noise with his BFL season opener win last week with a weight of 27 pounds, 10 ounces.
It’s by no coincidence these two pros are now one and two at Okeechobee at this week’s Costa event.
Milicevic leads with a five bass limit weighing 25-5, anchored by 7-pound, 5-ounce “biggin.”
Milicevic was on his way to one of his surefire limit spots this morning when he noticed an area he planned to fish later in the day for bigger fish was void of boats.
“Right then I scratched my plan,” Milicevic says. “I decided not to go get a limit first and just start on the big ones.”
Instead, he got out the big rod with the short string and went to work. In the end, going to the limit fillers would have been a complete waste of time, as he never needed a single par keeper.
“I had 22 pounds by 10 o’ clock,” he says. “I went to a second area and culled up a time or two and then decided to leave the rest of the secondary area for tomorrow.”
Milicevic added that a key to his success this year has been staying ahead of the boat traffic in his prime areas. He fished in solitude much of the day.
“Some of the places I caught them in the other tournaments are covered up with boats now,” he says. “Finding those key little 100-yard stretches no one has found yet is big on this lake. I’ve put in some time this year keeping up with the fish and the fishing pressure in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the pressure – I just hope I can do it for two more days.”

Top 10 pros
1. Gary Milicevic – Labelle, Fla. – 25-5 (5)
2. Robert Beatty – Clermont, Fla. – 23-11 (5)
3. Derek Yasinski – Senoia, Ga. – 23-8 (5)
4. Scott Byrd – Oklawaha, Fla. – 22-13 (5)
5. Buddy Gross – Chickamauga, Ga. – 22-1 (5)
6. Taylor Ashley – Warrior, Ala. – 21-0 (5)
7. Mike Miller – Trinity, N.C. – 20-10 (5)
8. Tim Fox – Meridan, Miss. – 20-6 (5)
9. Norman Foskey – Biloxi, Miss. – 20-1 (5)
10. Clint Brown – Bainbridge, Ga. – 19-14 (5)

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